Fuji Athlete Lisa Nutter had a dominating performance in September at USA Cycling Masters Track National Championships. Competing in the 55-59 age group, Nutter won every event she entered and notched an American Record in the 500-meter time trial. We caught up with the Philadephia, Pennsylvania-based athlete to capture her reaction to her outstanding races.
What were your goals going into Nationals? Did you know this much success was possible?
Lisa Nutter (LN): The pandemic has given us all new perspectives, I think, and I didn't want to create lofty goals for an event that might not happen. So, throughout the off-season and season, I focused on racing as much as I could fit in my schedule, getting reacclimated on the track, and improving my endurance, skills, and technique on the bike -- micro-goals. Staying fit for me isn't an option -- it's a must since I have diabetes and the training is a critical part of my health care. The fact that USA Cycling was able to pull off Nationals was a gift.
My only goal at Nationals, honestly, was to execute my races by putting it all together and trust that the hard work would get me through in the end. I knew that success was possible, but I also knew that it was only possible if I was performing at the top of my ability, so that was my focus. Having diabetes has made me hyper-aware of what my body is doing, so I've learned to not get ahead of myself, just focus on each race, and make each race the best effort I can at that moment on that day. When I'm doing that, I'm at peace with whatever the result. Corny, I know, but the truth.
Was breaking the American record on your radar? I saw you did a stand-alone record attempt after the National Championship ride.
LN: No, not at all! I'd been riding pretty well all season and my speed was good, but it was not on my radar especially in the 500m time trial. It just wasn't. I don't really consider it my best event. My 200m times actually had been comparatively better throughout the season, so I've always seen my 200m speed as the better of the two. But, this goes back to what I was saying earlier about accepting what your body can do on any given day. The morning of my 200m ride, it was a bit cool and for whatever reason, my legs just didn't go as fast as I know they can go. The only reason that I decided to do a stand-alone attempt in the 500m is that I didn't have the best standing start during my championship ride and was 2 tenths off the record. Then, I had to wait 2 hours to do the stand-alone record attempt -- just enough time to back out! And, you know, sprinting is hella anxiety-producing -- zero room for error -- so, there I was sitting in the pit for 2 hours with my thoughts. I operate best when I vocalize my concerns so that I can move on to just handling the business. So, I said to my husband and my training partner who were both trying to keep me focused, "Hey, so, that first 500 really hurt. Why don't I just break a record next year?" They both laughed at me. My training partner said, "Look, it will only take seconds. You're going to do it today." Good perspective and I was basically being told to woman-up. It was the tension release I needed. I laughed at myself too and then got myself in the right frame of mind to just do the damn thing and accept whatever happens. When I rolled back to the pit, I thanked folks for the applause then asked them to get me off the bike! I didn't even have the energy to release my toe straps. I don't think I've ever been so tired.
Which event was your favorite?
LN: The match sprint with it’s a combination of speed, power, and strategy is by far my favorite race. Love it! I also started to learn to race the keirin this past season. Now that I'm somewhat past my fear of racing closely with people moving at 40 mph, I'm beginning to embrace it. I like both of these events because they are about positioning and strategy and the fasted person doesn't always win. They both force me to bring my body and brain together.
Lisa Nutter making the final pass to win the sprint tournament. (Photo by: Gabe Lloyd)
T-Town is your home track, how did that affect your racing over the years where you need to travel?
LN: The team at T-town pulled together an amazing racing calendar (in the midst of a pandemic!) that included lots of sprint events which helped me feel prepared for Nationals and I accomplished some PRs over the course of the summer which helped boost my confidence along the way. Traveling with your bike is always a hassle, but racing away from home has never really impacted my performance. I think that the main thing for me was that it was nice to have been able to have a great Nationals with my family and friends in the stands.
What’s next for you in track cycling?
LN: Who knows? I do want to continue my journey of becoming a decent keirin racer. I feel like I was just beginning to understand it towards the end of the season. And, the masochist in me wouldn't shy away from taking on the kilo which I started doing this past season as endurance preparation for the keirin. I have no idea why it's a men's only event in competition. Other than that, ride fast, turn left as they say.